One immediate change from previous talks was the choice of language. Mann told reporters they were being held in English, unlike previous rounds under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani’s hard-line predecessor, where Farsi translation was provided.
A former senior U.N. official who has acted as an intermediary between U.S. and Iranian officials said the six powers want significant cuts in the number of Iranian centrifuges now enriching uranium.
They also demand that Iran ship out to another country not only the 20 percent uranium it now has but also most of the tons of low-enriched uranium it has produced. And they want caps on the amount of enriched uranium that Iran could keep at any time. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the talks.
Iran says it needs this material to power a future reactor network. Iranian state television has quoted Araghchi as saying that Tehran was ready to discuss its enrichment program but would never ship enriched materials abroad.
While seeking to reduce enrichment at Iran’s sprawling underground facility at Natanz, the six powers also want Iran to completely close the heavily fortified enrichment plant at Fordo, south of Tehran.
Demands to reduce enrichment instead of stopping it implicitly recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. That already is a victory for Tehran, considering talks began 10 years ago with the international community calling on the Islamic Republic to mothball its enrichment program.